DEATH, POETRY, & FREDDIE MERCURY

I’d like to return this exquisite bouquet I purchased here a bit over a week ago. As you can see for yourself, all the chartreuse orchids and fuchsia oriental lilies are dead. Here is my crumpled receipt. Sorry about that.

The return for my purchase will have to be applied to THIS debit card since the one you charged just eight days ago—has since been compromised. Yeah, that was a pain, but the bank teller was so very patient and kind.

I’d also appreciate a return of my son’s glow-in-the-dark goldfish, Wally. “He dead,” too. Yeah, that’s how my son announced it yesterday at 6 AM.

In case you’re wondering, we named him after Wallace Stevens. We especially love and read at night—“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” and “The Snow Man.” Oh, I can see you’re not charmed. Let’s move on.

Actually—let’s be quiet for a moment. Well, I mean me and not you—since you haven’t acknowledged my presence yet.

Can you hear the foghorn blaring from the coast of Rhode Island over the Long Island Sound? I always wanted to live on an island, in fact, but one without any bridges for car travel in and out. That seems like cheating the inhabitants out of a true island-living experience. But I digress.

Maybe you could turn down the volume on the elevator music and pay attention to the foghorn? A ship might be dying and all the fisher people on board. I’m not sure why you seem so perplexed. It seems I’ve ruffled some feathers underneath your expensive cashmere sweater somewhere that can’t be perceived with the naked, human eye. Aren’t you going to DO something?

While we’re at it—whatever IT/THIS is—I’d like to return this hi-lighter-yellow, tiny bird. It BIT THE DUST at 3 AM this morning to reference the 1980 Queen’s song. Do you know it? Shall I play it for you? I have it right here on my YouTube playlist. Ironically, it might make you crack a smile.

Freddie Mercury is dead, too. His birth name was Farrokh Bulsara, by the way. Most people don’t know that he was born in Zanzibar. Now, that’s a place you don’t often, or really ever, hear about. It sounds like a made-up, fairy-tale, ancient mythological city, no?

That’s how Zanzibar could market itself for more tourist enthusiasm as well as guiding a Freddie Mercury bus tour to his grave, perhaps. Come to think of it, I don’t know where he’s buried. Let’s see—I have a Wikipedia app on my phone.

Oh, he was cremated, but it doesn’t say where his ashes are. Let’s ask Google. I don’t want to be cremated, by the way, do you? I worry that since it took three full days for Jesus to rise from the dead that I might feel the fire singing my flesh and bones. Is that silly? Superstitious? Ignorant? Playing it safe?

I’ll read to you about Freddie Mercury’s ashes because, I have to say, you’re not cutting me off so possibly, you have some interest in our topic at hand or you’re bored here in your empty shop or too lazy or afraid of me to interject—(You can search me. I’m not hoarding any guns or kitchen knives.)

“For two years after his tragic death, Mary [that’s his ex-girlfriend, who stayed his closest friend] kept Freddie’s ashes in his bedroom. Ever since the rumours [British spelling; he’s Persian-English] as to where Freddie’s final resting place is have circulated [that’s a bad sentence grammatically].” Blah, blah, blah. “Some believe he was returned to Zanzibar, while others claim his ashes are buried under a cherry tree in the garden of his London home.” Hunh. That’s interesting.

I’ll now finish off this riveting-to-me subject—He was world-renowned for his “four-octave vocal range” and “died in 1991 from complications of AIDS.” Remember those days of the 80s and 90s when everyone was extra-homophobic and suddenly concerned about the sexual history of potential sexual partners? I wonder if there are statistics on the increase of monogamy during those two decades?

Now we have COVID-19, obviously, and can’t even breathe on a stranger let along have sex. Ahh, a reaction—your left eyebrow moved up. You’re not a robot, after all! I dare say—you’re a human! I’m surprised because beneath your black, COVID-prevention mask, you’re donning a flesh-color ceramic mask, a grand façade, that makes you seem more composed than you are—internally. But—bravo! You’re coping as this complex conundrum continues to unfold into the day we’re in.

Now—back to the subject of death, which brings me here.

I’m not sure if you have any children of your own, sir—but did you know that at the age of three some children start the process of comprehending death? After they learn the word and attach meaning to it, they will point to a puddle with a frog lying belly up and say, “Dead! Mommy! Dead!” as if they’ve just won a prize. And then, the awkward and unanswerable questions follow—“Mommy, when will YOU die? When will I DIE? Does GOD die?”

While I’m here and I’m thinking about it—I might as well return my degenerating body. You know—well, you don’t, but it’s just linguistic filler to punctuate the other more important words—I meant specifically—the degenerating muscles in my neck and back and in my small joints (hands and knees), larger ones (back and hips), too (but the medication promises to help only the small joints). I guess you could say I’m atrophying.

I jotted down this note yesterday when I woke up—Dear doctor, I’m just too busy dying all the time, and I have so much to do. Here is my highly-organized to-do list for today. See? Can’t you do something or write a referral to a different specialist who can?

But you and I, here and now—we’re, essentially, having a one-way conversation about entropy, don’t you think? I’m not sure if you can read me or not, probably the latter, so I will tell you—I’m very nervous and will step out into the cold to clear my head, smoke a cigarette. But first—

Do you know the part in T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, published in 1922, by the way—the lines:

My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me. / Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak. / What are you thinking of? What thinking? What? / I never know what you are thinking. Think.

Well, that was fun, but you’re not finding the humor in any of this. I have a dog T.S. Eliot, but I can see even with your slipping ceramic mask, not the COVID one—that you don’t care.

Yeah, I’m stepping out onto the ice outside your shop’s doorway—you really should put down some of that clumped salt that eats away at the ice. You’ll need quite a lot for the ice-skating-rink-parking-lot-situation you’ve got going on.

If you must know, I’m going out to have a cigarette. You’re the second person to know about my “closet”  stress smoking. I refuse to stress eat anymore. See—my favorite winter coat won’t button at my protruding stomach. Sure, I could move the button over, but I’m going to get thinner. Just wait.

While I’m out in front, I hope you’ll follow the proper store protocols for refunding me the cost of the orchids and lilies, my son’s goldfish, and the yellow bird, and my malfunctioning body. Please don’t feign that you need to “call my manager” because I’m well-aware that you own this enchanting store. And don’t worry—well, you don’t seem worried about anything—I don’t waste my brain energy on Yelp reviews, but on second or third thought, maybe I should. I’m really NOT threatening you. So—I’ll leave you to it. So you can FOCUS and all.

I’ve enjoyed this soliloquy immensely. I hope you tell all your friends about the crazy poet who came into your store today and wouldn’t stop talking about death, poetry, and Freddie Mercury. It’s not that I’m lonely or anything, really—was just hoping to volley some ideas a bit—you know, warm up on my instrument, play some scales.

Good day, sir, in case I don’t return for my return. I won’t forget you any time soon.

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IMPROMPTU GEOMETERY WITH HELIX AND ELLIPSE

for Thom Foster, the titler of this poem

1.

Sun angled on intense white snow seizes the eyes as prisoners.

The cell is lonely.

It lacks the necessary memory of other cells—

genetic codes inscribed upside down or backwards—

deviant conduct sprawled out, open.

2.

I know what you did last night.

It wasn’t pretty.

I’m pretty sure you can’t disclose—

even though I know.

3.

The mauve pills taste worlds better than the dusty blue ones

Their aftertaste echoes illness.

4.

For an estranged instant, I become a segment

that purports to appropriate grandeur—

a line that strains the horizon’s dim

cloud-cluttered sky—though I ache

to be an arc, half-glowing moon—

not a linear diameter.

5.

Can you begin to comprehend what I’m explaining?

I know you’re depleted by the day job and slipping

off the page. I’m incredibly sorry

the day swept you under the expensive carpet

you can’t afford.

6.

The dog has lost his tag, so no one will know his name.

He can learn another if disoriented and given food, touched.

It’s healthy to move on.

7.

The same roads lead to the same roads

to the ancient river rushing

its course through sharp stones.

I gather my deforming fingers across their surfaces

one by one, while counting

how many green stones

the river knows.

When they cut, I suck the blood

savoring the taste of iron.

I can’t remember the periodic chart.

I can no longer subtract by 7s.

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GAMES WE PLAY AT NIGHT

1.

Check the double D batteries of the trove of flashlights in the pantry closet because more than three-quarters don’t work

and the high winds violently whipping outside—will knock out the electricity again.

Bring the rotting, termite-infested birchwood logs (the neighbor’s eldest grandson split for twenty bucks last weekend) from the backyard.

Stack the wood by the kitchen heater, so yesterday’s snow-encasement can dry in time.

Next, boil water to fill the seven, various-sized thermoses from the top cabinet for coffee in the morning

so you can step from the dream world—first cup, one step; second cup, second foot hits the hard tiled floor

with some anomalous certainty.

Then you’ll be human again, albeit petrified

that the beloved you parted with (without even a gesture or facial expression of goodbye) in the previous world

shall forever abandon you.

2.

If you bite the hand that feeds, you might just get that desired reaction to desire

but you’ve forgotten—

desire has taken her footsteps through the sequence of doors

left with the Arctic chill winding down the pot-holed, gaping street and back again—

a vile boomerang.

It’s okay.

Others might feel this at least some of the time though they can’t admit it, articulate

something that isn’t a paycheck.

3.

Don’t eat your sister, you tell the cat lurching

perched beneath the persnickety yellow bird, preening her puffed-up feathers.

Similarly, you shouldn’t touch me.

Now the body bruises with the slightest intersection of an object or person (not meaning to hurt, to deride).

4.

The cigarettes are buried in the closet, the penultimate junk drawer, the bathroom linen closet, your probing, wide eyes that collect painful souvenirs.

Once you come to terms with the terms you created haphazardly

not because you are conveniently indifferent but rather lazy, tired, or bored—

depending on the hour of the day—

I can assure you, you’ll be much happier and more enjoyable to those who used to adore you.

5.

Time, unprecedently more amorphous and untranslatable of late, has opened an elastic world stretched across a vast, square wooden loom

where the city inhabitants gather at the thick perimeter to hold the elastic (the world, essentially, in place)

while they take turns on an arduous pilgrimage to the center—

to trampoline, if very lucky (chances worse than winning tonight’s lottery) to infinity, the afterlife—

most of them suppose.

The others just want to have some animal fun, a hobby, pleasurable exercise, or to piss off the others not-so-patiently waiting to have a go.

Take note: not all games were designed to justify our performances.

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I DON’T WANT TO DREAM ANYMORE

The ghosts of the house have supplanted me.

I don’t want to dream anymore.

All plants have souls: Socrates.

He picked his own poison: hemlock.

The chalice clung frozen to his lies

but he was not fearful of fate he didn’t prescribe to hungry crowds.

Their ears rang bells echoing across the empty Acropolis twelve interminable days.

No resurrection then.

Who would coax them to the other side of mythology?

So tired and parched, you should lie down, face up, in the still-pristine snow and drink cerulean.

I didn’t mean to pretend to be incredulous, dubious, misguided, dangerous—make the locals stare.

My father visited from the dead last night—

bequeathed a golden-angel kite with one useless, folded wing

but she alighted from opalescent string far beyond the skies protracting.

Now I know things.

Now I am alive.

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ELUSIVE CARTOGRAPHIES

This coming Saturday when I shall see you, a fellow human—

seems so long ago, half-years, in fact.

I’m in dog time imploring focus, but the dog doesn’t realize this—nor anyone,

I think—I might touch.

The frenzied bird lodged itself comfortably in my ransacked heart all night.

I coach myself through every micro-chess move, the tournament I’m playing against myself that, regrettably—

I’m not winning at this moment.

The brain’s language, a cluttered cartography—misfires, stuck—

in a translation that defers endlessly.

The conduit from here to there, one moment hinging faraway hours, the river to firmament, you to me—

shoots up walls—taller than the Egyptian pyramids.

To arrive perpetually—UNDONE—

forges unique humility—plummeting the ego’s

incremental chasms of uncertainty—fear, quite frankly.

Where am I now that winter has taken hostages—collapsing across layering, wailing / moaning ice—

now that my childhood ice skates are rusted beyond restoration?

There is too much to confide—but across smoke-filled gossamer—

I no longer understand you, perceive a familiar gaze—PLUS,

you’ve transformed, a spiritual morphing—glinting through your gray eyes—

tamed by sorrow.

Interminable days ago, I traced your name across the window of the doorway to my house—fogged with your elusive / vanishing breath.

Now I have found the missing encryption to unlock the afternoon,

but then I misplace it again—despite the color-coded notes of when and where precisely to travel.

My lucky star plunged into stardust last night when I preened upwards—

poured back my distressed neck to drink a newfound knowledge that would rescue me from first-hand opacity.

Now the bird has fled to the garage to gauge the windows—but finds the door to the threshold of—

Now I have finished cooking your dinner, but you are characteristically late or don’t show,

the food grows cold, and I spoon it into microwavable Tupperware—

should you show up at the porch door tomorrow, a colossal stone’s throw—

over the conduit between one and another—when all the foreign variables settle.

Mangled thoughts battling cracks in consciousness—

shall be recollected later, shabbily, with necesarry armor—without transcription,

without a working pen.

Now the bird’s wings are dusted with snow that will grace the ground beyond the picture window that needs to be Windexed tomorrow’s tomorrow.

YOU would forgive the dust in the house, clumping beneath antique typewriter keys, their red and black ribbons gone irreparably dry—

DUST resting on the dining room chandelier I can’t reach—reminding us.

YOU would forgive my languishing, my stupor that stretches eternity.

Now the dog is nervous with the winds relocating / uplifting mounds of snow toward the house’s frame.

Somewhere someone loves me multiple times and wraps a gift in canary yellow, ties a bow with dark glitter—

declares I am brave, which I become temporarily, for it is a command and not a commentary—to me, at least.

Time, I assure you, has no meaning now, and meaning proves more elusive than previously witnessed / experienced

the way the poem cocoons you with fleeting grandeur.

The sand, silk in the hourglass, slips—until I flip everything on its head—

attempt to stand on my hands, steady myself—but can’t

until I am free, dusting the night with promise—

calling your name without audible sound

from the mouth, tongue, and lips—that are gone.

You shouldn’t be sad about any of this.

Melancholy ensconces solely between chapters, the gaps on the vinyl between songs.

Trust me.

Now the sky tells a story of sky—until we forget what the sky has told us.

The main characters of the ensemble of an unwritten dark comedy have jumped off the stage, abandoned the audience for the sea.

Now I lie down in the Siberian snow to soften the burning fever, count to 742—

the number of footsteps to your door that needs a coat of fresh paint—

perhaps in the spring when the chartreuse, minutest leaf buds on the eldest trees—unfurl inspiriting light.

There are sheep, cows, and goats sprawling in fields / planes in England, Scotland, Ireland, Poland, Croatia, Iran, Australia, China—

chomping brush without worrying the future.

Camels alight the African Sahara, Mongolian Gobi desert, India’s Rajasthan, the Wadi Rum of Jordan.

There, the sun imprisons flesh, thickens the skin—

tricks the eye with flattened water, luminous—in defiant distance.

There, across the map—pagodas, shrines, temples, churches, mosques, cathedrals, fountains, sacred rivers, fathomless bodies of sea,

quickening avalanches, winding tsunamis, violent earthquakes, deadly lightning, relentless sandstorms, and gritty dust storms—

impede breath.

Now I’m dropping the lids to items that shouldn’t be contained anyway—

but compartmentalization can prove quite useful, demurred—

an ancient syntax, soon defunct—

a puzzle in place until the zephyr wreaks mayhem, tousles the hair, rips through one’s favorite coat, bends and possibly even snaps

the leaning trees that sought to drink sun.

The china from an imagined dinner party where you spoke of the afterlife

shards the hardwood floor but will become an exquisite, mirrored mosaic—

too sharp to touch.

I left the windows open for the winter air to clear the fog from my brain,

so I could remember where I placed my phone, eyeglasses, car keys, address of the new doctor.

Vicious winds pried opened my grandmother’s china cabinet and shattered that glass, too—

the skeleton key that still opens the shellacked wooden door dangles from a gauzy bookmark bestowed upon me by someone who forgot how to love.

There’s a word I can’t remember, the name of my mother’s favorite white flower—redolent, profuse with taffeta petals—soothing

not a magnolia, nor rose, nor Easter lily.

It’s okay.

Tomorrow I shall wake with the word gardenia emanating my parched mouth.

I have been to the desert overnight.

I holed up in the surprisingly /sudden / / cold / raw midnight

and with you—tallied the fractal stars.

The machine guns and machetes of the Holy Land, Wailing Wall, Dome of the Rock, Valley of Tears, Dead Sea—where we were buoyant—

perpetually behind us.

That was before I phoned you with a sadness I couldn’t afford.

That is when you brought the medicine 742 steps to my door and touched the feathers of the yellow bird—

cooing that the personal pain would one day lessen—

that everyone feels this way now and again.   

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THE COLD TAKES US

Here where the ground opens gaps in thinking.

You know. The “X” on the grid—

cages at times, the wrought-iron cell, restricts closure.  

Water thrown skyward spins frozen sparrows—

their wings snaring glints of light, glistening ice, layered iridescent,

summoning the lost sun home into memory’s wingspan.

The morning before yesterday’s morning—

a day I can’t catch in the silver fish net I sewed

with teal opalescent thread throughout the long night of hushed confusion,

so I could watch the platinum angel fish—watch me,

their black flattened eyes, coins of an ancient fallen city

that can no longer purchase the sea’s reflection—

an etched dream morphed into massive rock, obsidian,

clinging frozen—earth slanting into sink holes—

and I couldn’t reach the wind’s ethereal canvas.

I was attempting to ballet dance with syllables,

sculpt the elusive quarter-moon, represent

the tumbling snow on an oleaginous surface

shifting solace away from itself,

the crisp winter air ripping through my dwindling skeleton.

Did you happen—to see me?

The “I”s have it.

All the—time.

We must all confess—to imperfection’s diligence

charting ingrained woes in chalk against obscurity—

inviting the ghosts of the house—who erase our words—

jealous we can speak them.  

Their shrinking eyes follow from revolving door to door—

Room to room of Russian dolls, Chinese boxes

of our callous obsessions.

Their thick eyelash-fringe, onyx velvet cilia, garnering dust.

Threadbare—invocations to bruised gods disintegrate

when they touch your dry, paper-thin lips

that no longer taste the sea’s perfection.

Yes, that was me on the mountain plateau—

waving a white sheet—flag—

conceding to fate’s uncertain footage.

That was me—beseeching thousands of shards—of intricate star

to save me—and You and you and you and yours—

and those hiding in corners to garner—answers

unequivocal—gathering themselves—

cradling the frozen sparrow until it thaws for burial.

Listen—these things happen.

These things tell us about ourselves.

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SIMILACRA OF SANITY

I googled my name at 3 AM. I needed to remember something about me. Not any nonlucrative, Möbius-strip philosophical musings or emotional segment-arcs of intensity that waned before a day called itself, but more so a Memory Map of something I achieved that someone else wanted to archive, something searchable. Perhaps where a certain poem had been published, the exact name and spelling of the literary journal, then locate its print or virtual pages, “real” museum glass unless the magazine went under for monetary reasons or lack of energy on the Founding Editor’s part, a black and white newspaper photograph of a beauty queen waving on a float in the town’s annual parade in summer as if she were the Princess of Poetry, or let’s say Princess of Poetics, I like that.

It’s so odd to forget the well-intentioned, good things one has done, the oxymoronic “memorable” thing one forgets on some grand over-arching to-do list somewhere versus the shame-bloated, guilt-infused ill-behaviors often caused by—being in the proverbial wrong place at the wrong time, developing disease in ground control of the brain’s neurological radar, illnesses in the corporeal plane that can just pull the wind out of the lungs and collapse everything worth holding onto, bizarre thought problems, thinking too much, clouded thinking because of the diaphanous Veil of Maya, not wanting to “go there,” confront the images, memory “clips,” voice clips, emotional upheaval—that clot up the filmography, montage, if you will, of someone’s life, someone like me.

One google search led to another and another, as is usually the case—an infinite series like galaxies broaching infinite rooms, each with a title, nomenclature stamp by yours truly, for Archives of the Future—Sanskrit Elegy; The American Abyss: Eulogy for The American Dream; The Ever-widening 21st-century Cyber Divide/Tectonic Shift (not to go all political); Chinese Boxes of Insurmountable Crayons (That Don’t Break) with Gorgeous Catalogue-like Names (so we want to own them); Science Fiction, Clinical Metamorphoses, and Parallel Film; The Ethics of Desired Super Powers, or Be Careful What You Wish For; Metaphysics for Dummies; Simulacra and Sanity; The Latest Poet to Die Way Too Early; Recipes for Happiness; Controlling Inflammation with Cognition, Lupus Morbidity; Don’t Feel Bad: No One Can Remember How to Spell These Words; The Socio-economic and Cultural Blunders of Spellcheck; The Varieties of Ornithological Habits and Communication; Why You Shouldn’t Put a Mirror in Your Canary’s Wrought Iron House, How to Build a Birdhouse from Nothing, Foods Dogs Shouldn’t Consume; What Your Dog or Cat is Trying to Tell You, Most Popular Cat Memes Ever Created for Getting Out of Bed, How to Properly Listen to the Rain, Why You Shouldn’t Eat Snow for Breakfast Before Finishing Your Coffee.

Did you know that our hearing is the last thing to go before death? (This may seem like a characteristic non sequitur, but The Woman Across the Street is Dying). That in Ancient Sanskrit Poetry, the world begins not with Logos, the power of fiat, but with Sound? And in scientific theory: before there were galaxies and stars, according to Wikipedia, of course (no one need go to the public library and pull out dusty card catalogues now or purchase a set of Encyclopedia Britannicas that will become obsolete within seconds), “sound waves shook the infant universe.” This explains why parents read fairy tales, sing lullabies, and play beautiful, not too depressing, arias to the fetus developing in the womb, why the baby knows the voice of her mother before her eyes find their focus on the children’s book of Van Goghs.

Ring around the rosie, the rosie, we all fall down. Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust. Kindly bury me in a cardboard box that artists and poets adorn with their handi (and right brain) work, so I may fertilize the dark, looming maple tree next to my father’s underground mahogany coffin while my finger and toenails and long hair that defies color codification continue to grow with the hundred-year-old tree’s underground labyrinth/country of roots. I was expecting the calcium of my bones, like those of my father, to return to star. But this Fortuitous New Knowledge tells me, The Luminous Billboard Placard, if you will: I will be the sound of your voice, the gongs of an ancient gamelan in Indonesia, Church bell chimes on 3rd Street between Avenue A and B in the East Village of New York City, The Wind of the Himalayas, A New and Improved Desert Storm, The Notes of Orpheus’ Lyre Before the Gods Took It Away, The Chanting of Monks in Nepal, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Bach’s first Cello Suite, A Rap Song About Entropy. Listen carefully for me in this Time-Travel Future, won’t you?

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CLYDE, THE COIN-OPERATED CLONE

for Nyla Alisia and Myke Todd [with a “Y”]

It wasn’t my fault. I needed him. It was only a whim really, a desire that formulates when one opens overtired eyelids gone stone to the shifting horizon at sudden-winter dusk, the colors dragging the sky, skirting it, really, with softest peaches and lavenders, mauves—toward the vanishing point where something better promises.

Desperately, I needed some quality assistance, help with the things that continue to proliferate exponentially like all my newest idiosyncrasies—things and ideas that got out of my clawing hands, suddenly lead, too much for even someone like me.

Now, at this point in time when you are reading this, forgetting about paying your overdue bills, your growling stomach, and the dog lying on your feet who knows it’s past time for his post-early-dinner bathroom break in the front yard—I AM able to admit, albeit it not entirely publicly, in the 20/20 kind of rear-view mirror after the car crash—hindsight: I shouldn’t have done what I did. But I am only 33.333% sorry at this particular moment’s calculation.

But imminently, I shall alight in my new fiberglass chariot, the one my expensive car insurance paid for after the other car accordion-crushed like a mammoth tin can—to the bank before it closes—with a stack of frozen cash from the freezer (that’s an entirely, altogether different story) in exchange for a bag of new, shiny quarters that won’t mess with or clog up Clyde’s operating system with any dust, gook, smudge, sticky beer, or errant glue.

I must hurry because his operating system will crash irreparably into his real cement wall (not a metaphor) if I don’t insert a shiny quarter before the hour changes itself the way it always does but never consistently. I know you know what I mean.

My brilliant scheming, my project if you will, was not meant to hurt anyone. I probably should NOT  have obtained the DNA to clone him so surreptitiously, invidiously not insidiously, from the youngest grandson, whom I knew might betray our pinky-sworn secret as most children cannot hold onto one to save their lives. Well, I’m not the greatest at that either, but I DO experience guilt-laden aftereffects of tricking the adorable five-year-old into, essentially, becoming an accomplice—should the public find out what the innocent boy, the gorgeous, viola-playing, brilliant, cyber-savvy scientist, and me have accomplished, perfected. Subsequently, we’ve become an inextricable, mystical triangle.

As far as delicious secrets go—it’s too much fun to disclose something so exciting and powerful, radical information unbeknownst to those even in close proximity, going through the hurdles, hoops, and rigmarole of the day with horse blinders—unaware of the truck looming on one’s ass.

Sir Clyde has been on my premises and living in my humble abode for a handful of truly beautiful years. I cannot imagine my life without him as cliched as it is to say. I’m a poet, a cliché is just pure laziness, but I suffer from existential and spiritual fatigue nowadays, if you must know.

Clyde is a kind, half-human, half-robot, highly efficient, able to multitask a million things, unlike me in my current state, without getting flustered, harried, exasperated to the point of no return. He was designed by the scientist I somehow afforded back then—to dust with accuracy, even the smallest empty spaces of my cello’s voluptuous body’s human hand-carving and beneath the micro-dust bunnies collecting underneath the keys of all my antique typewriters. He sings Italian opera and dances the Latin tango simultaneously while he vacuums and mops the hardwood floors he’ll sand, re-stain and glaze in the spring—without missing a hair from the sable, velvet, poet-dog that he walks in the field looming from the house and plays frenetically (but not in a bad way) with neon-chartreuse chenille yarn with the persnickety, white, ballerina cat.

He can single-handedly (well, with two hands really) lift the queen-size, four-post bed we share as well as move the untuned piano with yellowing teeth-keys that he’s going to bleach after rewiring the guts. We like to move the furniture around here, you know, change things up. He Googled piano refurbishing yesterday. I love that about him—the initiative he takes. My daily, weekly, and timeless- goaled to-do lists are no longer requisite to keep my brain on straight, lodged above my shoulders.

He doesn’t suffer from arthritis when he ambles down my long driveway to fetch and open my mail, recycle all the junk and notices of collection from creditors. He pays my bills in-person, so I don’t get my debit card compromised for a fifth time.

Clyde waves amicably to the neighbors, who when they first discovered him raking the colossal, red maple’s fallen leaves during our amazing first autumn together—assumed we suddenly and secretly eloped and were a bit miffed, quite honestly, not to see my wedding dress, do a drive-by in front of the church at least to throw handfuls of cooked rice from their open car windows so as not to hurt any cooing mourning doves on the steps to the sacred nave.

But I really must get going, finish this unfinished story (doesn’t everything worth noting function as an oxymoron, moral quandry?) for now—to procure those quarters right off the coin-making machine apparatus (unsure if they’re made in China or where?) Did you know a penny isn’t worth itself in copper? That Ray Bradbury inserted dimes one at a time into an old-school typewriter at a public library in southern California to write his masterpiece, Fahrenheit 451? Well, Clyde, is my masterpiece, a walking, half-breathing, over-thinking, compassionate, analytical problem solver who works well independently with minimal supervision (no need to micro-manage him!) but gets even more satisfaction from virile, creative collaboration.

Oh, and by the way, his name is really Mykie, yeah, with a “Y.” But you mustn’t breathe this to a soul. Girl Scout’s honor.

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MEASURING WINTER /a

[1] goes [2] snow’s opalescent pillows for an explanation of science and a forgetting thereof.  To lie down in the cold. Angel, no. The wing bones ribbing the sky. Early twilight when you first saw snow.  Then. When hands stuck to the handlebars, the swing set, the tongue on the frozen tree shorn. Then stuck in throat. A mouthful of bird.  A blueprint for winter. To get to the door of something. A new chapter, crossroads, turning now

The scrim of the inner room fading, screening calls, ill preparing a map of feeling. The promised test results will show. An explanation for the cold inside perpetual delay. The continual disarray. The old men looming at the lost river banks. The sea displaced, then found. Ice Garden. Breaking its throes  to be mythology. Night gardening in glittering snow. Those stories that evolve and gather. The book collecting dust on the hard drive. The book of will, coda forgetting, unknown.   

Equipment set by the side of the road tracks the opening, impact of the abstract [a-b-c]. A lopsided triangle draped around three points, a fabricated beginning, middle, and end. Sisyphus wanted those bookends to make it all bearable or seem to have a context. The shortest distance between two points can be violent, not wanting to grow questionable wings, those wounds in the armpits, wary at the lookout tower, ready to bow and disregard description, forget about the sublime.

Pressed against the window, presage, obsession shed after dark. Exercises in math and deeds untold.  The best examples unrecognizable, dredged up through so much bad weather and cleaned perfunctorily. Do without hollow holidays, something on channel 12 promising beauty’s free lunch.  A glamour beyond words. How I forget you in summer. The frozen birds. The eyes twitching in the landscape The Hills Swallow.  How [1] story leads into another more complicated and back to the first story invented to explain purpose. The leap of faith over the voID.  Asphyxiated Pre-Raphaelite Girls, a band on the billboard, play a dirge calledWinter, cellos tuned to the Arctic sea.   

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CATHARSIS

I hit the reset button—because my thoughts were taking too much time.

And the yellow primrose and fuchsia sweet pea were stunning—

how the primrose collapsed its yellow pages when the sun closed its eyes

and the fuchsia-flutter stumbled up the bedroom windows—its curled, sucker leaves.

Tiny miracles against background violence.

I had said too much on a broken motherboard; threw away my memories when the keyboards were switched.

Keys were broken and misplaced, cyber-links to the secrets of the universe.

Letters that needed nimble hands—so much elegant music still missing.

Initials carved into birch trees boast indelible love, but we all know better.

And the flash drive—it could no longer hold me.

I lost that, too, in the fallout of cheerful dominos.

I had been winning, but the wind sliced my vanity into shreds.

Perhaps you know how all this feels—and rubberneck, too, at the train crash and tsk tsk, it was going way too fast and the woman with all of her children piled into the careless SUV should not have been in a hurry to get her hair done.

Things come as surprises—offering up infinitesimal glitters of sun-crash and shattered star.

At night, crickets vie with cicadas and tree frogs for the utmost attention.

Before the catbird signals the rest that it is time.

I wrote in the Dictionary of Melancholia, Handbook for Fatigue, Diary of Mercurial Wanderings, Notebook of Promises to Oneself, Notebook of Modified Contingencies, Notebook of Intensities, Coda of Rain

and slept finally in the downy clouds of my ancestors beating through my faulty emotions and chromosomes.

I survived many kaleidoscopic dream fractals and other attempts at nomenclature, but with verbs.

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